Great Lent or Lent

Great Lent or Lent or the Great Fast (Greek: Μεγάλη Τεσσαρακοστή or Μεγάλη Νηστεία, meaning "Great 40 Days", and "Great Fast", respectively), is the most important fasting season of the church year within many denominations of Eastern Christianity. It is intended to prepare Christians for the greatest feast of the church year, Pascha (Easter).

Great Lent shares its origins with the Lent of Western Christianity and has many similarities with it. There are some differences in the timing of Lent, besides calculating the date of Easter and how it is practiced, both liturgically in the public worship of the church and individually.

One difference between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity is the calculation of the date of Easter (see Computus). Most years, the Eastern Pascha falls after the Western Easter, and it may be as much as five weeks later; occasionally, the two dates coincide. Like Western Lent, Great Lent itself lasts for forty days, but in contrast to the West, Sundays are included in the count.

Great Lent officially begins on Clean Monday, seven weeks before Pascha (Ash Wednesday is not observed in Eastern Christianity), and runs for 40 continuous days, concluding with the Presanctified Liturgy on Friday of the Sixth Week. The next day is called Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday. Thus, in case the Easter dates coincide, Clean Monday is two days before Ash Wednesday.

Fasting continues throughout the following week, known as Passion Week or Holy Week, and does not end until after the Paschal Vigil early in the morning of Pascha (Easter Sunday).

The weeks of Great Lent are six:

Clean Week
The first week of Great Lent begins on Clean Monday, the first day of Great Lent. The name "Clean Week" refers to the spiritual cleansing that each believer is called to undergo through fasting, prayer, penance, reception of the Holy Mysteries and begging the forgiveness of his neighbor. It is also traditionally the time for spring cleaning, so that one's outer environment matches one's inner mood.

All this week, the fast is more strict. Those who have the strength are encouraged to fast completely, eating only on Wednesday and Friday evenings, after the Preconsecrated Divine Liturgy. Those who are unable to keep such a strict fast are encouraged to eat only a little and then only dry food (see Prodigal Son) once a day. On Monday, no food is consumed and on Tuesday and Thursday, only uncooked food. Meals are served on Saturday and Sunday, but these are fasting meals, during which meat and dairy products are prohibited.

On the Great Apodeipno, during the first four days of Lent (Monday to Thursday), the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is divided into four parts and one part is chanted every night.

The First Saturday is called "The Sabbath of Saints Theodore", in honor of Saint Theodore the Assumption, martyr of the 4th century. At the end of the Pre-sanctified Divine Liturgy on Friday (since, liturgically, the day begins at sunset), a special canon is chanted to Saint Theodore, which was composed by Saint John the Damascene. The priest then blesses the kolyva (boiled wheat with honey and raisins), which is distributed to the faithful, in memory of the following miracle of Saint Theodore, on the First Saturday of Great Lent.

Fifty years after the death of Saint Theodore, the emperor Julian the Transgressor (361-363), as part of a general policy of persecution of Christians, ordered the governor of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all food in the markets , with the blood offered to pagan idols, knowing that the people will be hungry after the strict fasting of the first week. Saint Theodore, appeared in a dream of Archbishop Eudoxios, ordering him to inform all Christians, so that no one buys anything from the markets, but, instead, eats cooked wheat with honey (kollyva).

The First Sunday of Great Lent is the Feast of Orthodoxy, which commemorates the restoration of icon worship after the Iconoclastic Controversy, which is considered to be the triumph of the Church over the last great heresies that troubled her (all subsequent heresies are just a rehash of the previous ones). Before the Divine Liturgy on this day, a special service, which is known as the "Triumph of Orthodoxy" is held in the cathedrals and large monasteries, during which it is proclaimed (containing aphorisms against the various heresies and praises from those who have fasted to the Christian faith) the synod. The theme of the day is the victory of the True Faith over heresy. "For every child of God can overcome the world: by our faith" (1 John 5:4) Also, the images of the saints testify that man was "created in the image and likeness of God" (Genesis 1:26), can become holy and divine through self-purification, as the living image of God.

On the First Sunday of Great Lent they originally honored the Prophets, such as Moses, Aaron and Samuel. The Liturgy of the Precemenus and the Alleluia verses, as well as the Epistle (Hebrews 11:24-26,32-40) and Gospel readings (John 1:43-51) appointed for the day, continue to reflect this the older usage.

Second Week
On the Second Sunday of Great Lent, it commemorates Saint Gregory of Palamas, the great defender of the Orthodox Church, the doctrine of Hesychasm against the attack against Barlaam from Calabria. Hebrews 1:10-14; 2:1-3 and the Gospel According to Mark 2:1-12.

All this week, until the Sixth Friday in Lent, one meal a day may be taken with dry food. Until the Sixth Saturday in Lent, the Saturday and Sunday fasts remain the same as in the First Week.

Third week
The Adoration of the Cross is celebrated on the third Sunday. The prostration comes on this day, because it is in the middle of the forty days. The liturgies for this day are similar to those for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14). During the All-Night Vespers, the priest brings the cross to the center of the church, where it is worshiped by the clergy and the faithful. It remains in the center of the temple until Friday of the following week (the Fourth Week of Lent).

Hebrews 4:14-5:6 and Mark 8:34-9:1.

Fourth Week
This week is celebrated as a kind of afterfeast of the Adoration of the Cross, during which some of the hymns from the previous Sunday are repeated each day. On Monday and Wednesday of the Fourth Week, the Adoration of the Cross takes place at the First Hour (repeating a portion of the service from the previous Sunday's Midnight). On Friday of the same week, veneration takes place after the Ninth Hour, after which the cross is solemnly returned to the sanctuary by the priest and deacon.

The Sunday that ends the Fourth week is dedicated to St. John Climacus, whose work, "The Climax of the Divine Ascent," has been read throughout Lent.

Thursday Week
On Thursday of the Fifth Week, the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete is chanted. This is the longest canon of the church year and during the nine Odes, most every person mentioned in the Bible is in mind and connected with the theme of repentance. In anticipation of the Canon, Vespers on Wednesday evening are longer than normal, with the addition of special verse tropes, in honor of the Great Canon. The Great Canon itself is recited during the Thursday Oaths, which are usually celebrated in anticipation, on Wednesday night, so that more people can attend.

As part of the Orders of the Great Canon, the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt is read by Saint Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (634 - 638), as an example of repentance and overcoming temptation. Also, on this day the famous stock is sung, "My soul, my soul, rise up, what are you sitting on?" ..." of Agios Romanos Melodos. On the following day (Saturday morning) a special Consecrated Liturgy is held and the fast is slightly relaxed (wine and oil are allowed) as consolation, after the long service of the previous night.

The Sabbath of Fifth Week is dedicated to the Theotokos (Mother of God) and is known as the "Sabbath of Akathistos" because the Akathistos hymn to the Virgin Mary is sung during the Orthro of that day (again, usually expected from the evening of Friday).

Thursday Sunday is dedicated to Saint Mary of Egypt, whose Life was read the week earlier during the Great Rule. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, many churches celebrate the "Blessing of Dried Fruits", in memory of the profound asceticism of Saint Mary.

Sixth Week
During the Sixth Week, Lenten services follow, as they would during the second and third weeks.

Great Lent ends with the end of Vespers, the vespers of Sixth Friday, and the Forty-Day cycle of Old Testament readings is over (Genesis ends with the account of the burial of Joseph, who is a type of Christ). In the same liturgy, the celebration of Lazarus Saturday begins. The Resurrection of Lazarus is understood as the foretelling of the Resurrection of Jesus, and many of the Resurrection hymns that are normally sung on Sunday (and which will be replaced by the hymns for Palm Sunday), are sung in Orthrus on the morning of Lazarus Saturday.

Palm Sunday differs from previous Sundays in that it is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church. None of the normal Lenten material is sung on Palm Sunday, where fish, wine and oil are allowed on the table. The blessing of the vaia (or itea that has yules) takes place in Orthros on Sunday morning and everyone stands holding vaia and lighted candles during the important moments of the service.

This is especially important in the Great Entry during the Divine Liturgy on Palm Sunday morning, as that entry liturgically recreates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. The themes of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday are interrelated and some of the same hymns (one of which is the Apolytikia) are sung on both days. Holy Week services begin on the evening of Palm Sunday and the liturgical colors change from the festive hues of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday back to the somber colors of Lent.

Duration - differences from the Western Church
One difference between the Orthodox Church and the Western Church is the calculation of the date of Easter (see Orthodox Easter). Most years, Orthodox Easter "falls" after Catholic Easter and can arrive up to five weeks later; occasionally, the two dates coincide. As with Western Lent, Great Lent lasts forty days, but unlike Westerners, Sundays are also counted.

Officially, Great Lent begins on Clean Monday, seven weeks before Easter (Ash Wednesday is not observed in the Eastern Church) and lasts for 40 consecutive days, concluding with the Presanctified Divine Liturgy on Friday in the Sixth Week. The following day is called Lazarus Saturday, which is the day before Palm Sunday (therefore, in the event that the Easter dates coincide, Clean Monday is two days before Ash Wednesday).

The fast continues throughout the following week, Holy and Holy Week (also known as Passion Week or Holy Week or Holy Week) and does not end until after the Easter Vigil, early on Easter morning (Easter Sunday).

The purpose of Great Lent is to prepare the faithful, not only to honor, but also to enter into the Holy Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. The whole of Orthodox life is centered around the Resurrection. Great Lent is intended to be the "workshop" where the believer's character is raised and strengthened spiritually; where his life is returned and rededicated to the teaching and ideals of the Gospel; where fasting and prayer culminate in the deep conviction of life · where apathy and indifference are transformed into intense activities of faith and good works; where every Christian prepares himself for his own Resurrection as the rebirth of the new Man from his passions and his sins.

Lent itself does not exist for the sake of Lent, just as fasting is not done for the sake of fasting. Rather, these are the means by which, and for which, the believer prepares himself to reach, accept, and achieve the call from his Savior. Therefore, the importance of Great Lent is particularly appreciated, not only by the monks who gradually increase the time period of Lent, but also by the laity themselves.

In the Orthodox Church, asceticism is not exclusively for the "ordinary" religious, but for every lay person as well, according to his endurance. Therefore, Great Lent is a "holy School" of the Church for the participation of every believer as a member of the Sacramental Body of Christ, the Church. It provides everyone interested, an annual opportunity for self-examination and improvement of the standards of faith and morality in their Christian life. The deep intention of the believer during Great Lent is encapsulated in the words of the Apostle Paul: "Forgetting what is behind me and doing everything I can to reach what is ahead." I struggle to finish and look forward to the prize of the heavenly calling of God through Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Through devoting more time than usual to prayer and the study of the Holy Bible and the Sacred Tradition of the Church, the believer in Christ becomes, through the grace of God, more godlike. The attitude of the Orthodox Christian towards this period is one of devotion and contemplation, it is not only a period of repentance, as the "Westerners" think of it, but an attempt to re-understand our real situation as it was with Adam and Eve before fall - an attempt to live pure, authentic, true life.

The observance of Great Lent is characterized by fasting and abstinence from certain foods, intensification of private and public prayer, self-examination, confession, personal improvement, repentance, almsgiving and restitution for sins committed.

After Shrove Tuesday in which we eat meat and the Halloween season in general (it should be noted that the abstinence from meat begins on Shrove Monday, i.e. a week before Clean Monday), follows Clean Monday, the first day of Great Lent which marks the beginning of fasting, the (Lent or otherwise kouluma). Which lasts until Holy Saturday.

The foods we traditionally abstain from are meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, wine and oil. According to some traditions, they abstain only from olive oil, while in others, from all vegetable oils. Since strict fasting, according to the rules, is prohibited on Saturday (with the exception of Holy Saturday) and Sunday, wine and oil are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays (not that Holy Saturday or fasting forbids the consumption of wine and oil , as well as the entire M. Week). If the Great Feast of the Annunciation falls during Great Lent, then fish, wine and oil are permitted on that day. However, meat and dairy products are completely avoided until the fast is broken on Easter Sunday (Easter). The Lenten table is often held outdoors, as most people celebrate "Kuluma" in the countryside, and it is not inferior to the meat-eating meals of Halloween. Instead, it includes fasting dishes and dishes:

The traditional lagana, a type of unleavened bread, is not missing from any table on Clean Monday and throughout Lent.

Preserved fish roe
Taramas, one of the finest types of roe, is the A and O of the Lenten table. Traditional recipes with tarama are the well-known taramosalata.

On Clean Monday, pickled vegetables (that is, preserved for a certain period of time in salt or vinegar) are very common.

Olives are never missing from the Shrove Monday table.

Lent is impossible without dolmadaki (Yalandzi). They are wrapped in vine leaves, filled with rice, onion and herbs and cooked in the pot.

Seafood such as shellfish (quinces, shiners, mussels, etc.), but also shrimps, squids, cuttlefish and octopuses are dishes that dominate during fasting.

Clean Monday and fasting without legumes is not understood. They are cooked without oil in traditional recipes such as lentils, broad beans and chickpeas.

Halva is the sweet made with tahini or semolina.

In addition to the additional sacred services described below, Orthodox Christians are expected to pay more attention to and increase their private prayer. According to the theology of the Orthodox Fathers, when asceticism increases, prayer should also increase. The Church Fathers have referred to fasting without prayer as "the fasting of demons" since demons do not eat according to their immaterial nature, but neither do they pray.

Priestly holidays
A unique feature of Great Lent is that, priestly (liturgically), the weeks do not run from Sunday to Saturday, but rather begin on Monday and end on Sunday. Also, most weeks are named after the teaching of the Gospel that will be read in the Divine Liturgy at the end of their Sunday. This is to show that the whole season is "anticipated" and culminates in the greatest Sunday of all: Easter.

During Great Lent, a special book of sequence is used, known as the Triῴdión to Katanyktikon (or commonly Triodium. It is so called because the rules contained in this book usually have three odes. That is, in each verse, whether it is Sunday or daily, we read the hexapsalm, sing the sittings, the "Timioteran", the praises, the doxology, but we also sing canons. The canons are a group of tropes, and in each verse two or three canons may be said. Each canon has nine odes. That is, three or four tropes make up the first ode. Another as many tropes make up the second ode. Another as many tropes in the third ode up to the ninth ode. These odes were based on the odes of the Old Testament. Ode means hymn.) . It also contains the fasting texts for Liturgy (Orologion) and Divine Liturgies. The Triodium is started during the pre-lent period to supplement or replace parts of the regular liturgies. This replacement begins gradually, at first affecting only the reading of the Epistles and the Gospel and increases gradually until Holy Week, when it replaces entirely, all other liturgical parts are eliminated even the Psalter and all texts are taken exclusively from the Triodion). The Triodion is used until the lights go out before midnight during the Easter Vigil, when it is replaced by the Pentecost, which begins by replacing the regular services entirely (during Lent week) and is gradually reduced until the regular services regain their position following the Metaortio of Pentecost.

During the weekdays of Great Lent, the full Divine Liturgy is not celebrated, because the joy of the Eucharist (literally "Expression of thanks") is contrary to the attitude of penitence, which prevails during these days. Since it is considered especially important at this time, that the Holy Mysteries (Holy Communion) be received by the faithful, the Liturgy of the Consecrated Holy Gifts—also called the Liturgy of St. Gregory of Dialog—can be celebrated on weekdays. This sequence begins with the Vespers Service in which a portion (offering) of the Body and Blood of Christ, which was preserved the previous Sunday, is brought to the table of intention.

This is followed by a solemn Grand Entry where the Holy Mysteries (Holy Gifts) are brought to the Holy Altar and then, skipping the Report (eucharistic prayer), follows the outline of the rest of the Divine Liturgy, including Holy Communion. Most parishes and monasteries celebrate this service only on Wednesdays, Fridays and holidays, but it can be celebrated on any weekday of Great Lent. Because the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated on weekdays, the Typicals take the place of the Divine Liturgies, whether or not a Liturgy is celebrated on Vespers. On Saturday and Sunday, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated as usual. On Saturdays, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom; on Sundays the longest Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great is celebrated.

The liturgical services during Great Lent are much longer and the structure of the services differs on weekdays. The usual evening small Communion is replaced by the much longer sequence of the Great Communion. While in the Russian tradition the Great Communion is used on Friday evening (although some passages are read instead of sung and some Lenten material is replaced by non-Lenten hymns), in Greek practice the ordinary Communion is used together with, during the first four weeks , the fourth of the Akathistos hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos. On the fifth Saturday, known as the Saturday of the Akathistos Hymn, everywhere, the entire Akathistos Hymn is sung in Orthros.

Theme of Lenten joy
One difference between Eastern and Western observances is that, while in the West the chanting of Hallelujah ceases during Lent, in the East its use increases. This is due to the fact that for the Orthodox, fasting should be joyful, and the sense of unworthiness should always be tempered by the hope of God's forgiveness.

In essence, they are days which follow the fasting pattern of the sequences referred to as "Hallelujah days". This theme of "Lenten joy" is also found in many of the hymns of the Triod, such as the stanza which begins with the words: "The Lenten Spring has dawned!..." (Vespers Service, Apostych, Wednesday of the Week of the Cheese-eater or Tyrini) and "Now is the season of repentance; let us begin with joy, O brothers..." (Orthros, Second Canon, Ode 8, on Monday of the Week of the Cheese-eater or Tyrini).

Acts of penance during services are also increasing. A prayer that characterizes the fasting services is the Prayer of Saint Ephraim of Syros, which is said in every weekday service, accompanied by full penances. The Wish of St. Ephraim is as follows:

«Κύριε καὶ Δέσποτα τῆς ζωῆς μου, πνεῦμα ἀργίας, περιεργίας, φιλαρχίας καὶ ἀργολογίας μή μοι δῷς.

Πνεῦμα δὲ σωφροσύνης, ταπεινοφροσύνης, ὑπομονῆς καὶ ἀγάπης, χάρισαί μοι τῷ σῷ δούλῳ.

Ναί, Κύριε Βασιλεῦ, δώρησαί μοι τοῦ ὁρᾶν τὰ ἐμὰ πταίσματα, καὶ μὴ κατακρίνειν τὸν ἀδελφόν μου, ὅτι εὐλογητὸς εἶ, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν».

The public reading of the Holy texts increases during Great Lent. The Psalterion (the Book of Psalms), which is normally read in its entirety once a week, is read in its entirety twice each week for six weeks before Holy Week. Readings from the Old Testament are also increased, with the books of Genesis, Proverbs and Isaiah being read almost in their entirety during the Sixth Hour and the Vespers Service (during Cheese Week or Tyrian Week, the readings in these services are taken from Joel and Zechariah, while during Holy Week it is from Exodus, Ezekiel and Job). Exceptionally, during the weekdays of Great Lent there is no public reading of the Epistles or the Gospel. This is because these readings are part of the Divine Liturgy, which is not celebrated during the weekdays of Great Lent. There are, however, Epistles and Gospels designated for each Saturday and Sunday.

During Great Lent, the church more often remembers its dead (sleeping) in its prayer, not only reminding the believer of his own mortality, thus contributing to the request for repentance, but also his Christian obligation of almsgiving in prayer for the asleep. The first Saturday that is dedicated to the memory of the dead, is the one before Apkreos Sunday, the third Sunday of the Triod, a period that precedes Great Lent. The second Saturday is the one before the First Sunday of Lent. Due to their special importance, these Saturdays are also called "Psycho Saturdays".

Saturday in Lent Week
The first Saturday of Great Lent
The third Saturday of Great Lent
The fourth Saturday of Great Lent
In addition, the Liti, a short prayer for the sleepers, held on the weekdays of Great Lent, as long as there is no other major holiday on that day.

Because the period of Great Lent is not fixed, as its beginning varies from year to year, some arrangements must be made for various days of important feasts according to the Orthodox calendar (Minaion) which are celebrated during this period. When these feasts fall on a weekday of Great Lent, the normal flow of Lenten services is temporarily interrupted in order to celebrate them solemnly.

The most important of these fixed feasts is the Great Feast of the Annunciation (March 25), which is considered so important that it is never moved, even if it coincides with Easter Sunday (a rare and special occurrence, which is known as the Lord's Passover). The fast is also relaxed and worshipers are allowed to eat fish (unless it is Good Friday or Holy Saturday). While, on other weekdays of Great Lent, no celebration with the regular Divine Liturgy is allowed, on the Feast of the Annunciation the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is celebrated, even if the day coincides with Good Friday.
When the feast of the patron saint of the parish or Monastery coincides with a weekday of Great Lent, no other service is celebrated (except that of the Pre-sanctified), but fish is allowed in the meal. In some churches, the feast of the patron saint is moved to the nearest Saturday (excluding Akathistos Saturday) while in other churches, it is celebrated on the same day of the feast.

When some other important feast coincides with a weekday, such as the First and Second Finding of the Holy Head of John the Forerunner (February 24), the Holy Forty Martyrs (March 9), etc., it is usually combined with the established liturgy of the Sanctified while both wine and oil are permitted at the meal.

Regardless of the classification of the feast being celebrated, the hymns of M. Tessarakoste, contained in the Triodium, are never omitted, but always sung in their entirety, even during the feast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos.

On Saturdays, Sundays and a number of weekdays during Great Lent, the liturgical texts of the Triodium leave no room for the celebration of the celebrated Saint from the Minaion. So that their services are not completely forgotten, a part of them (their canons in the Orthros and in their verse tropes from "Lord I burst out..." at Vespers) is sung at the Great Evening.

In addition to the added readings from the Scriptures, Spiritual Search Books from the Church Fathers are recommended during Lent.

A book commonly read during Lent, especially by monks, is The Ascension Climax, which was written around the 7th century by St. John Climacus when he was Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. "The Climax", is usually read in the banca (dining room) during meals, but can alternatively be read during the Little Hours on weekdays so that everyone can hear them. During Great Lent also, many of the laity read the "Scale" in private.

The subject of the "Ladder" is not Lent itself, but rather deals with the ascent of the soul from earth to heaven. That is, from enslavement to the passions to the building of virtues and his final deification (union with God), which is the goal of Great Lent.

In addition to the "Scale", in some monasteries the "Paradise of the Holy Fathers" by Palladius and the sermons on repentance of Saint Ephraim of Syros are read during the Orthron.